Stroll of Discovery: Riverfront Trail, Belleville

Explore the history of the natural and built environment of the Moira River in Belleville, Ontario.

Stroll of Discovery: Riverfront Trail, Belleville

Belleville, Ontario Canada

Created By: Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County

Tour Information

Archaeological remains show us that the river flowing through the City of Belleville has been a focus of human activity since the last Ice Age. To the Anishinaabe people, it was the Sagonaska, while Europeans have called it Singleton’s Creek, Meyers’ Creek, and the Moira.

The river has been a focus for industry; for powering grist and lumber mills, and as a mode of transport for the vast quantities of timber felled in its watershed during the 1800s. Its fish and its waters have supported human life, while its ice and floods have threatened it.

This tour was researched by John Lowry and produced by the Hastings County Historical Society and the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County. Its aim is to highlight the history of this stretch of river and the buildings that surround it.

Share your photos online with #RiverfrontStroll.


Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Free parking is available at this location.  
Originally the government wharf and warehouse and Belleville’s port of entry. In 1983 the City assumed ownership and by 2007 had transformed the area into the recreational focal point of a newly-revitalized waterfront.
In 1816 the Mississauga First Nation surrendered a 428-acre parcel of land. The area had originally been set aside as a native burial ground in 1783. Compensation was agreed in 2010 with the Alderville First Nation in relation to this purch... Read more
Jane Forrester was Belleville’s first woman Mayor (1956-1957). This park symbolizes the reclamation of industrial sites along the waterfront, a cause that Jane Forrester had championed in the 1980s. The park was dedicated to her in Novemb... Read more
Now the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Building, this property was formerly the home of the South End Athletic Club, founded in 1933 as an offshoot of the Wharf Street Debating Club to encourage interest in sports in Belleville.  
Mackenzie Bowell  (1823-1917) arrived in Belleville as a youth in 1832. He started out as an apprentice at The Intelligencer newspaper and went on to own the firm. He entered federal politics in 1867 and served as Prime Minister of Canada ... Read more
This plaque marks the location of a converted wooden boat house that once hosted colourful “bun feeds” for City Council candidates. After nearly a century, the Club moved to the Foster Ward Hall and the old building was demolished.   ...
This property was built in 1817 and is one of the few early harbour settlement buildings still standing. It was owned by Martha McIntosh, daughter of a United Empire Loyalist and later by Dr. George Ridley. It received a heritage designatio... Read more
A public park since the late 1800s, this former island was the site of a Rathbun Company sawmill until 1876, when the city took it over. The Bay of Quinte Yacht Club is located on the southern tip of the park.  
This Ontario Heritage Trust plaque outlines a brief history of Belleville from its foundation in around 1790 as a milling and shipping centre, to its growth as a railway town and its incorporation as a city in 1878.  
A railway bridge has existed at this location since 1911 when the Canadian Northern Railway ran a single track line through southern Belleville. Three years later the bridge was twinned to accommodate a line for the Canadian Pacific Railway... Read more
This scenic trail runs for 1.6km (1 mile) along the east and west banks of the Moira River, through the historic downtown section of the City of Belleville. It was named after local philanthropists John and Bernice Parrott in 2005.   ...
The Dundas Street bridge was built in 1970 to carry Highway 2 across the Moira River. It was dedicated to Wilbur C. Purcell (1925-2000), the former City Engineer and City Manager for Belleville, in October 2003.  
This monument, designed by J. Arnold Thompson and built by George A. Bennett, was erected in 1924 to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the landing of UEL settlers in 1784. It was moved across the street in 2004 and re-dedicated in 2005. ... Read more
Margaret Simpson operated a tavern in this area from 1797 until 1825, an early community hub for the new settlement of Meyers’ Creek. She built a frame inn in 1820 which stood on the northeast corner of the intersection until it was demol... Read more
The Moira is one of the largest river systems in Hastings County. It flows from Tudor Township for 98km (61 miles) into the Bay of Quinte, with a watershed of over 713,000 acres. Its former names include the Sagonaska, Singleton’s Creek a... Read more
Only the façade of the three-storey Bogart-Carman building remains. It was built by John Forin in 1872-1873 and housed the Daily Ontario and later the Intelligencer newspaper for many years. It collapsed during renovation work in 1990.   ...
Built in 1872-1873, the imposing City Hall building is an example of High Victorian architecture. It was designed by John Evans and built by John Forin. In 1987-1988 the interior was substantially renovated  to accommodate two additional f... Read more
This is the site of the first bridge across the Moira River, constructed in 1806-1807. The twin concrete double-span bowstring arches on this and the Moira Bridge were built in 1930 as an employment relief project during the Great Depressio... Read more
The courthouse was opened in 2013 and brought the various courts in Belleville together under one roof. The structure cost $12.8 million and houses eleven court rooms.  
The house at 180 Coleman Street was built in 1835 for prominent Bellevillian Billa Flint (1805-1894). He was a prosperous lumberman and merchant who served as Mayor of Belleville, Warden of Hastings, and in the Provincial Legislature. He wa... Read more
There has been a pedestrian footbridge at this location since the 1870s. The original steel suspension bridge was damaged by floods and was replaced by a concrete structure in the 1940s. It was named for former mayor, Ben Corke, in 2003.  ... Read more
This three-storey building with decorative brick crenellations was constructed for the Deacon Shirt company after a fire destroyed their original building on this site in 1911. It housed an optical company from 1924 to 1948 and has been the... Read more
The first church on this site was constructed during 1864 and opened for worship in 1865. It was destroyed by fire on 25 April 1881 and the current building was formally dedicated on 9 April 1882.
The second concrete double-span bowstring bridge to cross the Moira was, like the Belleville Bridge, constructed in 1930 as part of a federal government work relief program to provide employment during the Great Depression.  
This six-lane two-span concrete structure opened in 1978 to connect Pinnacle Street to the west bank of the Moira. The name comes from the original Anishinaabe name for the river.   
The Belleville Chamber of Commerce has its headquarters in the rustic log cabin in the Sagonaska Parkette. The cabin was brought to Belleville from Haley’s Station in the Ottawa Valley in 1978. It also serves as a tourist information cent... Read more
This area was purchased by John Walden Meyers for a grist mill in 1789. This limestone structure was built in 1879 by Ellis Burrell , who operated an axe factory on the site. It was rescued from demolition in 1978 by the Hastings County His... Read more
This Ontario Heritage Trust plaque commemorates John Walden Meyers (1745-1821), an early United Empire Loyalist settler in Belleville. His mills formed the nucleus of the pioneer community of Meyers Creek, which was renamed Belleville in 18... Read more
This park was established with support from the  Lions Club of Belleville, which received its charter in 1958. It features a Lions Club Friendship Arch, symbolizing friendship between neighbouring nations.  
Memorial Park at 130 Station Street has been home to Belleville’s cenotaph since 1932. The original structure was removed in 2001 and the park was redesigned and reconfigured to include the Thurlow War Memorial. Thurlow township became pa... Read more
The Lott dam was rebuilt in 1978-1979 as part of the Moira River Conservation Authority flood control strategy. Above the dam is the Kay Manderville Pedestrian Bridge, dedicated to the former City councilor in October 2020.  
There has been a bridge at this location since 1856 when the Grand Trunk Railway arrived in Belleville.  The town became a major railway centre and by 1903 the bridge had been widened to hold a second line.  
This concrete bridge was constructed in 1966 and replaced an earlier steel truss bridge. College Street was named for Albert College, which used to be on the north side of the street until it burned down in 1917 and moved to Dundas Street W... Read more
This park is comprised of land originally acquired by the Moira River Conservation Authority on the west bank of the river in 1975. It hosts a number of playground complexes and serves as a recreational focal point for the city.   ...
This dam was completed in 1979 and was the second of two ice-control dams built by the Moira River Conservation Authority to reduce the chances of springtime flooding in Belleville. The dam was named for James H. McLeod. It produces hydroel... Read more
Lazier’s Dam was formerly used to power the Lazier Paper Mill, which ceased operations  in the 1920s. Since the time of Meyers’ mills, six or more dams on the river have been used to provide power to various industries in Belleville. ... Read more
This park opened in the Fall of 2008 and provides local youth with a purpose-built skateboarding and BMX biking facility for multiple age groups. The Kiwanis Club of Belleville donated $100,000 towards the project.  
This ice-control dam was dedicated in October 1987. The dam was named in recognition of the role that the Belleville Yardmen Benefit Fund played in helping build the Quinte Sports Centre. The Yardmen were employees of the Canadian National ... Read more
This park includes the Lady Nicole Pirate Ship Park and the West Riverside Splash Pad. Rick Meagher is a former professional hockey player who founded a charity golf tournament to support the needs of physically challenged children and thei... Read more
This bridge opened in September 2010 to connect Bell Boulevard with Cannifton Road. At the east end of the bridge is a memorial to local military organizations.
This memorial features crests from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 99; the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans of Canada; the Air Force Association of Canada; and the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment.
A tribute to the men and women of the Merchant Navy who served in the First and Second World Wars. The polished black granite monument was sponsored by the Merchant Navy Association and was unveiled on 5 June 2011.
This area fronts the river opposite the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre. The southern portion of the park was once the location of a motel.
There has been a sports centre on this site since 1978, when the Yardmen Arena was built. In 2012 the facility was expanded with a swimming pool, additional ice pads, fitness studios and a walking track. In 2017 the centre became home to th... Read more
This dam was dedicated to long-time Intelligencer reporter Henry A. J. Mulhall, better known as Harry, in October 1989. Harry started with the Intell in 1962 and eventually became city editor for the newspaper. He passed away in 1987 at the... Read more
Free parking is available at this location.

 

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